diving below the surface
May 19, 2007
RB 4.47
And now it's our turn.

One minute someone is standing there, grilling burgers for dinner. The next minute you're in the ER while they're asking you (and another housemate, neither of whom knows anything about checking someone into the hospital) about Advanced Directives and using words like "survivable" or "not".

Funny thing is, my blogger's block had seemed to disappear, and I was all set to post something about my kids' service "reflections" and friendships and all sorts of other bloggishly-appropriate content. Instead, I spend just under 24 hours (minus maybe six hours) in an ICU waiting room*.

No one could remember the last time someone died while "on mission", living out in one of the houses — one of my housemate's been in community 30 years, and she said it was long before her time.

Note to self: Massive bleeding stroke and blood thinners don't mix.

I figure it'll hit us next week, when things are back to "normal" .... when we have prayer and dinner with an empty chair ...... when I drive to school without dropping her off first .....

And yet, just as it's beginning to sink in, it'll be the end of the school year, and a couple of us will be heading back to the Hill for the summer ..... where the absence won't be that noticeable, since I wouldn't have seen her much this summer anyway. And then next fall someone else will probably be moving in. So I'm not quite sure how or even if I'll fully be able to wrap my mind around all this.

So, yeah ...... whaddya say? Just another piece of community life, I guess.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Oh, and the subject line? From Benedict's chapter on The Tools for Good Works. And what does that referenced line say? Day by day remind yourself you are going to die.

But Benedict shouldn't worry. Even if we forget to remember this on our own, God seems to do a great job of reminding us.

Sound too morbid for you? Let me give you a few bits of context: Place your hope in God alone. Yearn for everlasting life with holy desire. Day by day remind yourself you are going to die. Hour by hour keep careful watch over all you do, aware that God's gaze is upon you, wherever you may be. And finally, never lose hope in God's mercy.

The whole chapter is really good. Scroll down the link and read Chapter Four. Heck, read the whole Rule — it doesn't take all that long.

The moral of this story? Verse 73 .... If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down. Cuz you know neither the hour nor the day.

*And a big huge thank-you shout goes out to the Baptist East ICU staff, for all their wonderful phenomenalness to us about all of it. Just some amazingly accommodating sensitivity to everything. Thank you all for making such a tragic time that much more humane.
Written by Benedictine Sister at 1:16 AM
Apr 29, 2007
Where'd it go?
Can I mention that I'm mildly stressed?

Way too much to do. As of a couple weeks ago, I was way on-track, plenty of time to cover all that needed to be covered for school. Now, all of the sudden, it's all disappeared. And I haven't even gotten to the Reformation yet! Yes, I still (theoretically) have the whole month of May, but considering that we meet only every other day, and exams are coming up, and I need lots more grades, and ..... sigh. Between Spring Break and needing to ease back in after all the tragedies, things just kinda snuck up on me.

I promise, I'll get back to Fishing for Faith duties soon.

In the meantime ..... Anyone got a Time-Turner I can borrow? Please?!?!?
Written by Benedictine Sister at 10:08 PM
Apr 17, 2007
"No One Deserves a Tragedy"
Driving home today, NPR's Talk of the Nation ended with Nikki Giovanni's words at the close of the convocation today at Virginia Tech (video clip).

I was especially struck by her broadening view of the word "tragedy" — extending it to not just the big deals that make the news, but simply stating that "No one deserves a tragedy."

Makes me think of the article in the paper last week about our student dying .... one of the comments posted was "Her obituary is posted on today's obituaries. Bless her heart, she's beautiful too." What, so it'd be OK if she was an ugly kid? Does that make it any worse that she's beautiful, or talented, or popular? Does being shy and homely make a student somehow more expendable?

According to Catholic social teaching, ALL of us are beloved children of God. ALL of us have been made in the image and likeness of God. As such, ALL of us are worthy of inherent dignity and respect.

As the Good Doctor (Seuss, that is) once said: "A person's a person, no matter how small."
We are Virginia Tech.

We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on; we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly. We are brave enough to bend to cry, and sad enough to know we must laugh again.

We are Virginia Tech.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it.

But neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS. Neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by a rogue army. Neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory. Neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water. Neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of night in his crib in the home its father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destablized. No one deserves a tragedy.

We are Virginia Tech.

The Hokie nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong and brave and innocent and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imagination and the possibility. We will continue to invent the future.

Through our blood and tears, through all this sadness, we are the Hokies.

We will prevail, we will prevail, we will prevail.

We are Virginia Tech.
Written by Benedictine Sister at 9:08 PM
Apr 16, 2007
For all victims and perpetrators of violence .....
The overriding theme in my classroom this year, in terms of rules, seems to be summed up in my oft-repeated "Play nice."

Play nice.

Such simple words, they almost seem inappropriate for a 10th grade classroom.

Such a simple concept, too. You know, that whole "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" idea?

And yet ..... apparently it's not that easy to learn.

Many thoughts and prayers go out to the Virginia Tech community.

Many thoughts and prayers, too, though, go out to those many many many more people who aren't part of the "deadliest shooting rampage in US history" .... and who therefore don't make the news.

At our monastery, we often add this intention at Morning Prayer: For _____, who is scheduled to be executed today in _____, for all victims and perpetrators of violence, and for an end to the death penalty, let us pause a moment in silence.

Today, I feel the need for a rewrite:
For all victims and perpetrators of violence, and for an end to all the craziness, hatred, and rage in the world, let us pause a moment in silence.

Is it really that hard to just play nice?
Written by Benedictine Sister at 10:49 PM
"You know neither the hour nor the day...."
Over the course of the past five weeks or so, our school has encountered the following sudden deaths:
¤¤¤ husband of a counselling office secretary
¤¤¤ husband of the campus minister
¤¤¤ father of a sophomore
¤¤¤ husband of a counselor
¤¤¤ a sophomore

And that's not including the multitude of grandparents that we've had recently, either.

We've been on spring break for the last two, so I'm sure there will be folks arriving Monday morning who haven't heard. Still not really sure what happened with the sophomore — perhaps something heart-related (though I don't think she had heart problems), not a car crash or anything of that nature. However, she was on vacation with her mother and three friends (thank God it was her mother that was with them — can you imagine if you were the mother of a friend who was there when this happened?!?!?) .... I didn't have her, but I have all three of the friends she was with.

Different situation than another local school had to deal with this year, but still ..... which is worse, a preventable accident or an unexplainable unawakening?

Either way, it's not really the best time for the Clueless One (aka me) to get to be an official Sophomore Religion Teacher Nun ......

Makes me think of last year, when I did my "Life Lessons With Sister Stephanie", after some of the more tragic deaths at the monastery — about how you never know the impact your stupid little nothings might have on others, and how we never know how long we'll have people with us ......

We've got a faculty meeting at 7:15, then a prayer service first thing at 8:00. I just realized tonight, though, that the seniors got an extended spring break, so theoretically none of them will be there tomorrow. But then it'll be 80-minute periods, which somehow I'm thinking that this really won't be the time to explain the mutual hissy-fit temper-tantrums that led to the creation of the Orthodox Church as an independent entity separate from that of Rome. What we will do, however, is still a mystery to me .......

Our school has about 800 girls. I've got 120 of the 200 or so sophomores; there are probably another 50 or so of them that I had last semester but not this semester. Big enough school that people don't necessarily know her, but small enough that everyone will be hit pretty hard. And enough close ties to the other Catholic high schools that it's not just our issue to deal with.

So send prayers, please, to our little corner of Loovul. We could use all the help we can get.
Written by Benedictine Sister at 12:14 AM
Apr 8, 2007
Blogging the Monastic Triduum ~ Easter Vigil (Service of Light)
This is our 5:30 AM service, a continuation of where we left off last night from leaving church. Again, as I said, our Easter vigil is different than you'd find in a parish; this is Part II of our extended vigil service.

We begin outside, in the small parking lot in front of the monastery. It is dark at this point, but we have the light of the Easter fire (which apparently has been lit for the Sisters by members of this one family for I'm thinking forever). The fire is blessed, and our prioress will prepare our Paschal Candle with the alpha and the omega, the numerals 2006, and five grains of incense. This candle is then lit from the blessed fire. One of our sisters will then sing the Exultet, a glorious proclamation of our own Passover experience (sorry, it's hard to condense it into a nutshell blurb -- I tried. Besides, it's late!).

I don't remember if we do the Exultet outside or after we've processed into church (I'll edit after the service if I think of it), but at some point in there we each light our own candles from the Paschal candle, and we see the light gradually fill the church, which is completely dark (except for our candles, of course).

Until ....

We sing the Gloria. For the first time since the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, we sing "Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to God's people on earth." And we don't just sing the Gloria. No, we let it all out. After all, Jesus has conquered death! We literally pull out all the stops. The pipe organ is wide open; the brass and timpani blare their praise; and all the lights come on full-force to show a church filled with candles, flowers, light, and glory. And the bells, which have been replaced by a wooden clacker these three days, ring out for the whole town to hear throughout the entire Gloria. It's been over six weeks since we've had a celebratory feel, and we make the most of it.

Especially after these three days of Triduum silence, a dark and barren church during services, small electric organ only for giving pitches .... you can't help but feel the difference, to realize that something truly spectacular has taken place. It all makes the 5:30 A.M. start time very much worth it.

We have a reading from Paul's Letter to the Romans (continuing last night's sequence of scripture), where we are told:
If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.

Then, for the first time in over six weeks, we can say the forbidden A-word as the Gospel Acclamation. (And believe me, especially in the Liturgy of the Hours, we very much make up for lost time – we'll be saying Alleluia before and after every psalm for the next 50 days!). And we hear Mark's version of the Easter story, where the women discover the empty tomb.

While we don't have any baptisms, we still take the opportunity to bless the water of our font, and we all then renew our baptismal promises, professing our faith and renouncing evil. (Funny story about that ... when my one nephew was being baptised, my godson was two and in the back of church with someone. The priest asks "Do you renounce Satan and all his evil ways?" My godson, from the back of church, yells "Noooo." I'm so proud of him!)

And, after that, we continue with Mass "as usual" .... except for lots of big music, celebratory stuff, and songs with more Alleluias than any other words.

After Mass, we all head over to the monastic dining room for an extra-special breakfast, complete with tablecloths and jelly bean bowls on every table. Of course, there's lots of talking that takes place, and it's not until we finish our leisurely meal that it strikes us that on any other Sunday we wouldn't even be up by now! People then chill out for a while (or sleep!), and then we have midday prayer (which never happens on a Sunday except Easter), followed by the noon meal. Then there will be Bingo or Bunco or some other form of whole-community recreation mid-afternoon, Evening Prayer (complete with lots of Alleluias, of course!), and a "picnic" supper (part because we've had two big meals already, and part because that way our kitchen ladies can go home after the noon meal to celebrate with their families).

And, unlike folks at the monastery, who get a "delayed opening" tomorrow .... I get to drive back to Loovul and figure out what exactly I'm gonna talk at my kids about all day without falling asleep. And decide if I have grown-up clothes clean to wear to school. And remember that I'm prayer leader at the house this week, and that I need to plan out the hymns, etc.

One thing's a given ...... there'll be lots of Alleluia hymns in the rotation this week!

Happy Easter, folks. And if you're not an Easter kind of person ..... well, then, Happy Springtime Sunday!
Written by Benedictine Sister at 5:30 AM
Apr 7, 2007
Blogging the Monastic Triduum ~ Easter Vigil (The Readings)
Traditionally, the Easter Vigil is when new members are received into the Catholic Church, so the baptisms and confirmations are a part of the rite of the Easter Vigil service. However, we here at the monastery are not a parish and, as such, don't have baptisms or confirmations. Thus, we do our service a good bit differently than you would find at any church you might attend.

Most notably, we split our liturgical celebration into two parts: 7:30 Saturday evening, we gather to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word; then we depart in silence to wait in vigil through the night. 5:30 Sunday morning (time is set based around the anticipated sunrise time) we gather outside for the blessing of the Easter fire and the celebration of the Resurrection Eucharist. But, since it's not time for Part II yet .... let's not get ahead of ourselves!

One of the benefits of splitting the liturgy is that it allows us to not have the time concerns that affect folks in a parish. This gives us the freedom to fully engage in all seven readings as laid out in the lectionary, each with its own responsorial psalm and prayer; many parishes end up just doing a few of the readings, and possibly shortening them. We actually omit the prayer here, keeping with our Benedictine tradition of lectio divina, where we just immerse ourselves in scripture.

While this might sound like an awful lot of scripture, it's actually rather cool, because it takes us through "Salvation History In A Nutshell" .... and here at the monastery, the texts are truly proclaimed, so that adds to it as well – it's not just someone reading at us. (That's another thing I don't always appreciate until I'm somewhere where I don't have it – lectors who proclaim the scriptures instead of mumbling their way through it as fast as possible!)

We begin at the very beginning (a very good place to start. When we read we begin with .... oh, sorry.). We hear from the opening of Genesis:
In the beginning, God called everything into being. And each and every thing that God called into being, he found to be good. Except people. Rather than being called into being, God said, "Let us make humans in our image, after our likeness." So, when "God created human beings in the divine image, in the image of God they were created; male and female he created them" ... God found it very good.

Then we sing Psalm 33, with the refrain: The earth is full of the goodness of God, the goodness of the Lord.

We then move on to a story from a bit later in Genesis:
God puts Abraham to the test. Abraham proves that he is willing to give up even that which is most dear to him for the Lord's sake. And, while some people take issue with the fact that God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, God also sends an angel to be certain that Abraham does not in fact follow through with the task. Although I do often wonder about the conversation between father and son on the way home .... Regardless, Abraham does pass the test, wins favor with God, and is told that "I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore." Included, too, is my all-time favorite line from the Vigil service: "I swear by myself, declares the Lord." heeheehee

Psalm 16 follows, with the refrain: Keep me safe, O God, I take refuge in you.

Next comes the Exodus story, the freeing of the Israelites who are enslaved in Egypt:
Pharaoh has suffered the plagues, the Israelites have had their Passover, and they now stand at the edge of the Red Sea. The story begins with God telling Moses: "Lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea, split the sea in two, that the Israelites may pass through it on dry land." It happens as God says, and the Egyptians follow the Israelites into the sea. God tells Moses once more: "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and charioteers."

The psalm response is actually from Exodus 15 – it is the song that the Israelites sing right after the Exodus: Let us sing to the Lord, who is covered in wondrous glory.

We then move into the prophets. First comes Isaiah 54:
The Lord promises fidelity forever. "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back. In an outburst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; but with enduring love I take pity on you, says the LORD, your redeemer. This is for me like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah should never again deluge the earth; so I have sworn not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you. Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you." This one always makes me laugh because it has the word carbuncle, which I always thought was just another one of my dad's made-up words.

Psalm 30 has us singing: I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me. I will praise you, Lord, for your mercy. I will praise you, Lord.

Our fifth reading is another passage from Isaiah, this time from Chapter 55:
A beautiful invitation, wherein God promises to provide for our needs. "All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread, your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare." After telling us to seek the Lord, God reminds us: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts." A bit later in this passage, God says "For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it." Especially interesting if you consider that Jesus is the Word of God ....

Our response now is from Isaiah – With joy you shall draw water from the springs of endless life.

The sixth reading is from Baruch 3:
Israel is initially rebuked for forsaking the fountain of wisdom but is instructed to "Learn where prudence is, where strength, where understanding; that you may know also where are length of days, and life,where light of the eyes, and peace. Who has found the place of wisdom, who has entered into her treasuries?" The glories of Lady Wisdom are extolled.

Psalm 19 is sung – Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

The final reading of this evening service, one of my favorites, comes from Ezekiel 36:
God speaks of how he scattered his people in punishment, but now "I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land.I will sprinkle clean water upon youto cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God."

We all sing Psalms 42/43 as arranged by Bob Hurd (and heard here) before we leave the church to keep vigil in silence.
Refrain: As the deer longs for running streams, so I long, so I long, so I long for you.

Athirst my soul, for you the God who is my life! When shall I see, when shall I see, see the face of God?
Echoes meet as deep is calling unto deep, over my head, all your mighty waters sweeping over me.
Continually, the foe delights in taunting me: "Where is God? Where is your God?" Where, O where are you?
Defend me God, send forth your light and your truth, they will lead me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.
Then I shall go unto the altar of my God. Praising you, O my joy and gladness, I shall praise your name.
Written by Benedictine Sister at 7:30 PM
Blogging the Monastic Triduum ~ Holy Saturday (As We Wait in the Silence)
Holy Saturday is basically the time to wait. Jesus has been buried, and we patiently await the pronouncement of the empty tomb. We have Morning Prayer in the same manner of the past two days; we have a brief Midday Prayer; other than that, there's nothing that goes on until this evening (except for practices, setting things up, and other sorts of logistical details. Oh, and if you're me, there's also lunch dishes to be done!).

As I think about the Triduum thus far, it's interesting to note my inner stirrings. Perhaps it's because we're back in church, and I haven't had Easter in our monastery church since the year I entered community. There's definitely something to be said for a "sacred space." Chapter 52 of the Rule of Benedict states: Let the oratory what it is called, a place of prayer, and let nothing else be done there or kept there. While our prayer space during restoration was also used only for prayer during that time, it was very much a converted meeting room. To be back in our sacred space, especially with how magnificently it has been redone .... it's a wonderful thing.

Perhaps, instead, it is the fact that I've been living on mission this past year. While I'm back at the monastery many weekends, and while we do the same prayers at my house, it's very different to be in that space, with the organ, chant, and whole community involvement.

Perhaps I've just settled a bit. There was a bit of a rough patch around Christmas, but I think things have finally begun to fall into place for me. I'm not as uptight about certain relationships as I have been (although I still find myself getting sucked into some of them more often than I'd like); I even found the courage to ask the "hard questions" and speak my truth to some folks (via a letter) during these days (of course, the silence probably helped with the courage peace, since technically no one should be talking to me about it until tomorrow! I'm still quite the coward; I just fake bravery well sometimes.).

I remember thinking last year how much more charitable I was feeling towards people during this Triduum time, but then I realized that it probably had something to do with not having to talk to them. It's a lot easier to not get annoyed by people when you're not interacting as much!

I was especially noticing it Thursday night during Mass, though. I got in from school just in time for music practice, so I pretty much dove full-force right into Triduum. The organ was doing the entrance hymn, so we (the "strings" group -- guitar/keyboard/bass) were able to be a part of the community procession into church; however, we went straight up to take our places on the altar. Standing there, a few steps up from everyone else, listening to the organ/brass/timpani hymn, watching the community process in .... I have no words to describe the feeling. Rightness, perhaps? Watching Kris wash the feet of our sisters, hearing her give us the mandatum to go and do likewise .... after all, she truly is our community's leader and teacher, and yet she serves us. Even walking towards the dining room for the Agapé meal, realizing how stupid the "Who should I sit with" thought was, that it didn't really matter where I sat — they're all my sisters.

It's interesting, too, my non-existent need for involvement. I played bass Thursday night, and that's all I've done for liturgy. (Well, that and I get to clack the clapper for Evening Prayer tonight, but that doesn't really count. And I've done dishes and will move plants, but those aren't really liturgical. Nothing like reading or carrying things or lighting things or stuff like that.) But it hasn't really been a huge deal. In fact, I've only really thought about it in the context that it wasn't bugging me. I didn't even worry about if I should be a temporary part of schola (the small group "choir" of sisters) or not. I've just been a general member of the community congregation, just taking it all in. Which for me is a big thing — not being annoyed at why so-and-so gets to read again or is the litugist mad at me and so that's why I wasn't asked or .... So it's a kinda cool state to be in. Just content with where I am.

I'm also not all hard-core high-pressure about what I'm going to do during these days, how exactly I'm going to best connect with and focus on God. Last year was pretty chill, too, and I did some cool art stuff around the significance of each day. I brought that stuff with me again this year, but haven't really done anything with it ... but that's OK. Haven't really done any major journalling .... but that's OK. My time in the chapel (hiding out in a corner of the balcony -- I love little hiding places!) during adoration Thursday night was focused on writing that letter, but I figured church was the best place for me to be gentle in my honesty. No expectations — I've just been. I haven't been as perfect with the silence as I had intended, but I'm not beating myself up over it; plus, while I have perhaps engaged in a teeny bit of conversation, it hasn't really pulled me out of the deeper sense of silence. (Besides, I had to offer a congratulatory hug, right?)

I've spent some time outside enjoying sunshine — wandering the grounds, sitting on the dock, hanging out on the colonnade. I've wandered methodically through the cemetery for the first time ever, reading the names of each of our sisters .... feeling bad as I catch myself making fun of some names, figuring out which sisters I've heard stories about, recalling some memories as I reach the sisters that I knew, surprising myself with the tears as I came upon the three from this past fall.

And maybe part of it has to do with that "rough patch" around Christmas ... somehow I weathered through my aggravations and frustrations, and maybe now I'm just a little more solid about being here, in this monastery, with this group of people?

Who knows?

But really .... does it even matter?

While I've had some struggles this past year .... while I'm sure there are still many more struggles yet to come .... right here, right now, I am content.

Right here, right now ..... I am where I belong.
Written by Benedictine Sister at 5:02 PM
Apr 6, 2007
Blogging the Monastic Triduum ~ Good Friday (A Time to Reconcile)
This morning, I realized that I had two things to clarify/add with regards to Morning Prayer during these days. For one thing, when I said there's no Lord's Prayer, I meant that it's not recited; rather, we say it silently. Then, I had forgotten that after the Benedictus (from Luke 1:68-79; Zachary's canticle on the birth of John the Baptist), we chant the Christus Factus Est (exactly as you see it in the link, Latin, chant notation, and all). It's the passage from Philippians 2:8-9; we begin it on Holy Thursday with Christ became obedient for us even unto death. Good Friday we add death on a cross; Holy Saturday repeats both of those elements and finishes things off: Because of this, God raised him and bestowed upon him the name which is above all names.

Mid-morning we have what we call our Reconciliation Chapter (basically, for the monastic community only). Unlike the official sacrament of Reconciliation, this is not a time where we go confess our sins to the priest. Rather, it's a time of prayer (what a surprise, no?) which includes an examination of conscience using excerpts from the 1983 document of the US Catholic Bishops entitled "The Challenge of Peace" and some questions for our own reflection on how we have contributed to disunity within the community through either what we have done or what we have failed to do. Our prioress also gave a wonderful reflection on the need for forgiveness and reconciliation, though it is often difficult and may take a long time to achieve. One of her most striking points for me (and this is my recollection of it, not a direct quote) was in looking at Jesus' words from the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Perhaps Jesus at that point, beaten and bloodied, could not quite bring himself to forgive them. But he knew they needed his forgiveness and that he needed to grant it, so he asked God to do it for him. Perhaps that's what we might need to do at times. After the prayer and reflection, we then share a sign of peace with each other, asking forgiveness for any hurts we may have caused for that sister over the past year.

At 3:00 in the afternoon we gather once more for liturgy, this time to celebrate the Lord's Passion. As a continuation of the Holy Thursday liturgy, the service does not have an opening rite. The readings today include the Suffering Servant from Isaiah and the Passion according to Saint John; today, the Passion is sung by various members of the monastic community, which presents it in a whole new way to the listening ear. There is a period of quiet reflection, and then we have a formally structured set of ten extended petitions with a prayer for each of the following intentions: For the Church ... For the Pope ... For the clergy and laity of the Church ... For those preparing for baptism ... For the unity of Christians ... For the Jewish people ... For those who do not believe in Christ ... For those who do not believe in God ... For all in public office ... For those in special need ... (although I really like the fact that here we combine other Christians, Jewish people, non-Christians, and those who don't believe in God into one non-exclusionary petition and prayer). After these intercessions, we have the Veneration of the Cross, where we focus in a special way on the manner in which Jesus gave himself up to death. We then have a simple communion service, using the consecrated hosts from Holy Thursday. (While I love the guys who come over to say Mass for us, there is something to be said for having our own sister, one whom we have chosen to lead us as a monastic community, as the leader of this liturgical celebration.) After this, we depart in silence.

The rest of the day is spent in personal quiet and reflection (or walks and enjoying of outdoorsedness). We come together once more for the evening meal, but in terms of liturgical celebrations, nothing else goes on. Just a time to consider the darkness of this time of the cross.
Written by Benedictine Sister at 5:01 PM

Discover God in the everyday. With us.
SISTERS OF SAINT BENEDICT of FERDINAND, INDIANA